Understanding Library of Congress Call Numbers

 

Have you ever wondered how books in the Shasta College Library are assigned their places on the shelves?  Did you know that the call number, the number placed on the spine of the book, is a code which provides valuable information about the book?

What are call numbers for?

  • Each book in the Library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address that tells you where the book is located in the Library.
  • Call numbers appear...
    ...on the spine of the book
    ...in the Library Catalog
    LB
    2395
    .C65
    1991
    LB2395 .C65 1991

How do I read call numbers at the Shasta College Library?

  • Our Library, like many academic libraries in the United States, uses the Library of Congress Classification System for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subject.
  • LB

    Read the first line in alphabetical order

    2395

    Read the second line as a whole number

    .C65

    The third line is a combination of a letter and numbers

    1991

    This is the year that the book was published

What does the call number mean?

  • The Library of Congress classification system arranges materials by subject. The first sections of the call number represent the subject of the book. The letter and decimal section of the call number represent the author's last name. The last section is the year the book was published, but not all books will have this included in the call number.
LB
2395

The first two lines describe the subject of the book:
LB2395 = Methods of Study in Higher Education

.C65

The third line typically represents the author's last name: .C65 = Corman

1991

The last line is usually the year the book was published:
1991 = year of publication

How are books arranged in call number order?

  • This diagram should help you understand how to find your book on the shelf after you have gotten the call number.
LA before LB
2395 before 2396
.C645 before .C65
1991 before 
1992
LA
2899
.P87
1989
LB
2395
.C65
1991
LB
2395
.C65
1991
LB
2396
.A771
1987
LB
2395
.C645
1993
LB
2395
.C65
1991
LB
2395
.C65
1991
LB
2395
.C65
1992